Journey to Banana Land
Institute of Visual Training
United Fruit Co.
This film shows through animated diagrams and photography the more important phases of banana culture.
The journey begins by leaving the United States and sailing to the Caribbean area. A map shows the countries and locates some of the important cities in Middle America (Central America). This area from Mexico to Colombia, from the Dominican Republic to Guatemala, is shown as including hot, wet lowland regions, coastal lands covered with jungles, and mountainous regions with volcanoes. The journey stops in a typical city and shows natives drawing water from the public fountains, selling products in open markets, attending church, visiting with friends, and shopping. In outlying districts descendants of the ancient Mayas grow maize, prepare coffee beans for market, and care for cocoa trees.
The journey finally reaches its destination -- a banana plantation in the wet, hot lowlands of Middle America. The historical background of the development and spread of the banana is given. The film shows workers clearing a jungle for the plantation and setting out plants. A series of animated diagrams illustrates the growth of the banana plant from the time the rootstock is planted until the plant is fully grown, fourteen months later.
The harvesting of bananas is done by a team of three men -- the cutter, who cuts the plant just below the bunch of bananas; the backer, who catches the bunch and carries it to the toad; and the mule-man, who loads the fruit on a pack mule or cart. The fruit is harvested while it is still green.
The next sequence shows bananas being repeatedly dipped in tanks of water to clean them and then being taken by train to the port. Here they are carried by conveyor belts into air-conditioned holds of ships which transport them to the United States. Special banana trains distribute them to all parts of the country, where they are then put in ripening rooms. When they are ripened, they are sold through retail stores.
The concluding sequences show people enjoying bananas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between meals. As a youngster prepares a banana milk shake for an afternoon snack, the recipe and directions for making it are given.
Such incidental information as explanation of Spanish words, remarks addressed directly to the audience, and illustrative shots of people and places adds to the richness of the experience which the film provides. [Educational Screen, June 1951]
This film tells the story of bananas -- a "modern treasure" -- as they make their way from the tropics to your breakfast table. It takes great pains to point out that people like the Conquistadors merely took things from Central America, while people like the United Fruit Company "bring 20th century living" and "greater purchasing power" to the jungle wilderness. This film has the look and feel of a travelogue, which was obviously intentional. It had its premier showing aboard the S.S. Talamanca of United Fruit's "Great White Fleet." (KS)